After 30 years with the Galesburg Fire Department, Battalion Chief Todd Peterson finished his last shift Wednesday morning.Peterson tells WGIL, “It’s just the right time to go – I could’ve kept going – but I’m happy about the guys that will get promoted.” With Peterson’s retirement, Fire Captain Dave Farrell will be promoted to Battalion Chief and Matt Lewis will move up to Farrell’s position. In Peterson’s 30 years – from August 8th 1988 to August 8th 2018 – the former Galesburg High School and Monmouth College graduate and East Galesburg resident reflected on his time with the GFD. In memorable moments and calls that he was a part of, Peterson admitted that he remembers the early ones and the late ones. His most memorable fire was his first “big one” – the former Arlington Hotel across from the depot on Seminary Street in 1989. Peterson said he could remember the smoke and fire shooting up into the sky as they waited for train on North Seminary Street. Peterson said, “We spent the night spraying water onto the roof of the old Arlington Hotel. I remember other fires too….but that first one always pops into my mind.”
He says a common misconception is the amount of down-time people think firemen have. Between system and equipment tests, training, and keeping fit, the GFD does things right way. “There’s times, when you’re going through your life – it actually drags,” Peterson laughed. “But you get through..and where I’m at now…enjoy it because time flies. Most of my good friends are firemen. I got a lot of good friends – but the guys within the department – you share a special bond. I landed in a great job. It’s been a heck of a ride.”
Peterson admitted that he was very close to getting emotional during several of the good-byes Tuesday and Wednesday. As for what the future holds, he plans to stay in the area, start up some new hobbies, and take the winter off.